Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Lego birthday cake.

With my partner's birthday on the horizon and the boosted confidence from last weeks success from the creme patisserie bake I decided I wanted to make my other half a birthday cake. For my regular blog readers you would have seen last years birthday cake creation that was a Porsche cake. This year I wanted to create a lego cake. Doing a Google image search for lego cakes left me with lots of ideas to follow.
Victoria sponge cake
I started by making a regular victoria sponge cake and then decided that one cake was not nearly big enough  and doubled up the recipe making a second cake. Whilst the cakes where cooking it was time to make the individual lego bricks.
Lego fondant icing
Using the outside plastic edge of a biro I stamped out lots of tiny little circles of icing and using the tip of a knife carefully sat the circles onto the squares of icing. Several hours later and several bricks made the cakes where cooked and cooling nicely.
Edible lego bricks

Lego cake bricks
With the two cakes stacked on top of each other to make a square I sandwiched the cake with jam and butter cream icing. Laying white icing over the whole cake was necessary to hold the cakes together and stop them from sliding around.  I then added a second layer of icing and cut a sliver and rolled it back on itself to look like the cake underneath was made of lego bricks.
lego birthday cake

Lego sponge cake

lego cake
Adding lego characters that looked like my partner where the finishing touches to the cake, and i'm pleased to say my partner loved his cake even if at the age of 33 he really should have grown out of his love for lego!
lego cake pictures

Monday, 24 June 2013

Fresh fruit creme patisserie.

When I got invited to a recent dinner party and was asked to bring a dessert my desire to impress comes out to play. I really do love baking and I don't do nearly as much of it as I would like to. With a full time job, a passion for surfing and photography there doesn't leave a lot of time to be creative in the kitchen. Also being just me and my partner in the house it's never practical to make a big dessert, although my partner and myself will happily eat our way through a whole dessert designed for eight neither of our waste bands will like it.

Here is my first ever attempt at making a fresh fruit creme patisserie.
Puff pastry dessert
So firstly I decided to cheat! as it's my first attempt at making the desert I used a shop bought packet of puff pastry. Left for a few hours to defrost then rolled into an even flat square. Next I used a knife to score around the edge of the pastry around an inch wide all the way around. As I wasn't following a recipe for this step I cooked in an oven heated to 200'C for around 30 minutes but kept checking every few minutes as I wasn't sure if the pastry was rolled quit thin and i didn't want it to burn and equally I didn't want soggy unpuffed pastry.
puff pastry dessert base
With the pastry out of the oven, I left it to cool. Once cool I flattened the bit in the middle and squashed out the puffs.
creme patisserie
Now it's time to make the creme patisserie, and this time I do need a recipe to follow. Using a recipe from the BBC's website  I mix together four egg yolks and  65g of  caster sugar until it turned a pale blonde colour. Then I added 15g of plain flour and 15g of cornflour and whisked. Once mixed together I left to one side. 
Vanilla infused milk
Now it's time to infuse the milk with vanilla. Now the recipe said to use a vanilla paste but in true Amanda style I chose not to fully follow the recipe and use a fresh vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Adding the vanilla to 350ml of whole milk I heated to a gentle simmer and then let cool for a few minutes.

The next step I was particularly worried about. Adding half the hot milk to the egg mix and keeping it moving in the bowl and avoiding scrambling the eggs with the hot liquid. Once I had succeeded in not making scrambled eggs I added the mixture back to the remaining hot milk and mix together over a heat whilst constantly mixing until a thick sauce was created. 

Breathing a sigh of relief and letting the creme cool I was home and dry to finishing off my dessert. 
Creme patisserie on puff pastry
Loading the creme patisserie onto the puff pastry and spreading out it was then time to neatly cut the fruit and arrange onto the creme.
Fresh fruit creme patisserie dessert
The end result was a delicious dessert, and very proud of myself for making something so delicious.
Fresh fruit creme patisserie

Fresh fruit creme patisserie pudding

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Wedding favours for the Imaginative

Wedding favours might not be an essential part of the wedding and in fact some people nowadays don’t even know what they are because they have never experienced them at a wedding. However, when they are done the right way they can really contribute to the overall experience of the day and are a lovely way to thank the guests for attending and offering their best wishes to the happy couple. Nowadays people truly use their imagination when it comes to wedding favours so get your thinking cap on and find something suited to your joint personalities. 

Here is our list of 5 unusual and imaginative favour ideas.
Wedding favour ideas
It is very rare that you come across someone who doesn't like chocolate so a homemade box of chocolates is a wonderful gift idea. You can make a big batch of chocolates simply by melting chocolate and mixing it with marshmallows and nuts and then allowing it to set in little cases. Then add a few to each box and tie with a ribbon and a little name card. This is something that everyone can enjoy, although they might not last very long.
  1. If your wedding is themed then you need something to tie in with that theme. For example, at an Alice in Wonderland wedding you might see a table filled with pots of different sweets and little labels saying ‘Eat Me’. Guests can then help themselves, adding sweets of their choice to little bags and nibbling on them throughout the night. This DIY idea is becoming more popular, allowing people to take as much or as little as they like and it is always a hit with children.
  2. A novel idea that has started to catch on in recent years is to leave little bags of grow seeds in everyone’s places. They symbolise growing a positive future and will often feature a little saying on the bag, such as ‘grow a little love’. This would tie in nicely with a more homely wedding theme as it is a very rural idea.
  3. A simple yet effective idea is the keyring gift. This could apply to numerous ideas and can be personalised by the couple to suit the occasion. Standard keyrings can be bought that have space for a small photo on the main piece. There are also silver keyrings that could be engraved or novelty keyrings featuring a joke or a toy. The idea is to give the guests something to take home and keep and this product is always popular with children who might need entertaining after a certain amount of time at the wedding.
  4. Finally, a very popular, simple and cheap wedding favour idea is to buy personalised chocolates that are wrapped with a little message on each one. They usually feature a message of thanks for attending the wedding, but if you have the time you can personalise each message so that is special for that table or the individual guests, although this will cost much more.
To find suitable gifts all you really need to do is put a little time aside to work out how many you need to buy and what kind of budget you have. If you are low on time then buying something like the Alice in Wonderland sweet idea might be ideal as the guests do the work themselves which is a lot more favourable. Choose something that you would like to see at a wedding and something that makes you smile, I am sure you can think of numerous things. Hopefully it will have the same effect on the guests and it will be money well spent.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Treliver Minerals Open cast Mine - Public Consultation. Cornwall residents we need your help.

Treliver Minerals have begun a borehole exploratory drilling program on land at treliver farm. (Near the Springfield pony centre) Drilling hundreds of metres into the Cornish landscape.

If the drilling is successful an open cast tin mine will be right on many Cornish people's doorsteps destroying local communities and the environment.

There is a public consultation tomorrow (19th June from 2pm - 8pm) Local residents from the area are all meeting at the pony centre at 6pm and we ask for your help in joining us there to ask questions about this planned mine and the effects it will have on Cornwall.

The company will come to Cornwall dig up our beautiful landscape for their profits and leave a village, environment and community devastated.

I'm asking for anyone from Cornwall to come to tomorrow nights consultation to learn of the full impact this project will have on Cornwall.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Chartering a Yacht for a Wedding Reception

Whether you’re a boating-crazy couple or simply want to do something a little bit different for your wedding reception, have you ever considered chartering a yacht? It’s a fantastic way to make your wedding stand out and to make it a day that people will talk about for years to come, and you can get some truly unique photos to add to your wedding album.

One of the most popular yacht chartering spots, the Solent, has lots of companies offering up yachts for corporate events, but why not take advantage of these well-equipped boats and use them for your wedding party instead? They are attractively decorated as they are used for business professionals, and it is possible to get catering, drinks services and music on board. You could transform the indoor event space into a dancefloor.

This is a particularly good idea if you have a smaller reception planned. This is a great way to get both families bonding, and any little ones invited will love helping out on the deck and learning all about the boat. You can get some spectacular shots of the family with a beautiful backdrop of the sea and the coastline for some really unusual mementoes of the big day.

Wedding photography Newquay

You can set the yacht to travel along a route that means something to you as a couple, or simply follow a route with some particularly attractive stretches of coastline. Sun-drenched cliffs, twinkling city lights and majestic stretches of beach all make for some fantastic sights through the afternoon and well into the evening while you dance the night away on your own private yacht. And even better, you can make as much noise as you like without worrying about disturbing anyone else!

Remind your guests to wrap up warm and make sure that everyone has received a safety briefing before you set sail so that everyone knows what to do if there is a problem. Also make sure people watch what they drink or line their stomachs sufficiently to prevent any drunken accidents at sea.

Make sure someone has decorated the yacht beforehand to make it look a little more special. This might mean bunting, balloons and drapes, or you might want to carry the nautical theme inside with anchors, rubber rings and seagulls. You should be allowed to decorate the indoor space any way you want so that you can have a theme which reflects you as a couple and the nature of your big day for a truly unique wedding day.

Guide to Great Home Food Photography

Food PhotographSo you’ve just cooked up a masterpiece and take a photo to keep a record of your achievement. Unfortunately the picture turns your mouth watering meal, into an unappealing mess. Food photography isn’t as easy as you would think. But never fear, by following these top tips you can more easily capture the tasty look of your food. Get some food photography inspiration here.

Plan Ahead
Before you even start taking the photo, think about how you can arrange the elements of the dish to make photographing it easier and more interesting. Keep the plan simple, but make sure you have a plan.

Contrasting background
An appropriate colour contrast is important to make the food stand out. Avoid having a similar colour or shade in the food and background. Also keep the backdrop clear and simple. A patterned or cluttered background will be very distracting and detracts from the photo.

Tripod Setup
Avoid any potential motion blur by using a tripod. Since most food photography is done indoors, you can easily use a tripod and not have to constantly worry about holding the camera still.

Natural lighting
If possible, use natural sunlight to light up your food. Try taking the photo during the day and close to a window. The natural light results in soft lighting and a more professional looking image. Using the camera flash directly should be avoided at all costs. The harsh glare and shadows will ruin the photo. A reflector is a useful tool to direct the light in the direction you want.

Presentation is everything
It’s not just the food, but also what you present it in that will make a good photo. Think about all details such a using suitable cutlery, plates or bowls to add that extra spark to the photo.

Different angles
Be creative when composing shots. Don’t play it safe by just taking photo from above. Explore the various angles and heights to find interesting ways to show off your food.

Inner angles
Don’t only focus on what you see on the outside. Some foods have interesting textures and layers on the inside. Try cutting and slicing breads, cakes, pies, fruits or other types of food that could result in a great shot.

Close up
Consider all the parts that come together to create the meal. So get up close and personal, to take some macro shots of different elements on the plate. This will help show all the small details and textures in the food.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to practice. Try out different techniques and methods to perfect your home food photography shots.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Night Surf Fistral beach Newquay.

Yesterday saw the final night of the ever popular night surf at Fistral beach in Newquay. With weather more appropriate to winter and waves to match it didn't stop the crowds from attending last nights event.

Arriving quite late we managed to catch the last three heats of the event but due to the surfers competing in up to 10 heats in one day, they planned to end the surfing itself earlier as fatigue was really setting into to some of the competitors.

With crowds on the balconies of the Fistral Blu bar and more on the beach the strong winds did not put off the spectators even with the events South African compare commenting on how Cornwalls summer was more like winter in South Africa and commended everyone for their support for the event.

Night Surf Newquay
With the surf pumping and the wind blowing the junior finals created lots of action with deep drop in's, broken boards and impressive cut backs from such young talented surfers.
Newquay Surfing
As the night drew to a close the surfing did not disappoint with Alan Stokes stealing the show with his first wave. I think I lost count of the amount of tricks he did on just one wave! 
Fistral Night Surf
We were given a brief glimmer of hope that the weather today might be nice with a brief moment of a red sky at night. As long as you didn't look west and see the bleak storm clouds rolling by you could believe that we were supposedly in summer.
Beach Sunset photos
With the final complete and Alan Stoke winning the night surf in Newquay for the firth time in a row it was time for the prize giving. With the floodlights switched off apart from one for the prize giving the beach suddenly looked very cold, with the continuing howling wind and charging waves.
Night Surf

Alan Stokes
With the final coming to a close and a few more songs from the live band it was time to close the night with a spectacular firework display lighting up the sea and into the bar for the after party.
Fireworks over Fistral Beach

Happy Fathers Day daddies.

Well it's fathers day and I won't be seeing my dad today. Unfortunately my parents live 350 miles away so a little bit to far to go for Sunday lunch, however that doesn't mean that i'm not thinking of my dad today.

Without my parents, I wouldn't be in Cornwall today as the bank of mum really helped me when times were tough. 7 years on and i'm still in Cornwall and still loving it. Thanks for both being great parents.

Happy fathers day.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Best Camera's To Take On Holiday This Year

If you’re thinking about jetting off on holiday this summer, then there are a number of things that you’ll have to remember to bring with you. From sun cream and travellers’ cheques to moisturiser and beach towels, these items are essential if you want to have a relaxing time wherever you are. Additionally,  if you’re holidaying with your children then you will also need to be able to capture the fun, family moments you will share together.
The Best Digital cameras

Many people believe that digital cameras are too expensive, and that it’s much easier to buy a disposable one for a lot cheaper. There are many down sides to disposable cameras however, like the limited amount of photos you can take, the quality of the photos and the zoom function (there isn’t any).

There is now a range of digital cameras available that are extremely affordable, with some even under £60. This means that you’ll be able to store as many great photos as you want, upload them straight to your computer via the memory card or USB cable, and take your camera away with you year after year. Let’s take a look at this year’s best digital cameras to take on holiday.

Shockproof and Waterproof Cameras
‘Shockproof’is a great attribute that many cameras have, however you might end up paying a little bit more money for this feature. Shockproof means that your camera can withstand being dropped, knocked or even stood on, and although the outside may take some damage, the important parts on the inside – like the memory card where all your pictures are held – will be protected.
These days, shockproof cameras are made very well, and unless you drop it from a severe height that will obviously destroy any piece of electrical equipment, then your camera could last for years. Always make sure you read the user manual for your shockproof digital camera, as they will all have predetermined maximum drop heights.
You can even get digital cameras that are both shockproof and waterproof, and again you’ll have to fork out more money for this feature. Just like the shockproof feature, your waterproof camera will have a predetermined depth you’ll be able to go to before it starts letting water in, however unless you’re a diver, it’s unlikely you’ll be reaching those depths on holiday. Additionally, make sure you know what you’re buying, as many consumers mistake waterproof cameras for water-resistant – there’s a big difference!
Check out www.venturephotography.com for more information on the latest cameras.

Under Water Photography

Protective Casing
If you’ve already got a durable and decent camera, and you’re not in the market to get a new one, then there are still a number of options available so you can protect your photos when jetting off on holiday. There are a variety of silicone camera skins, or cases, that you can put around your camera to protect it, whether it’s from heights or water. Your camera may not look as designer as many of the new models, but it will certainly be protected, and your wallet won’t feel as light either!

Newquay's Night Surf

Well it seams the wet weather and gale force winds might have eased enough to enjoy tonight's night surf at Fistral beach. With the flood lights erected and the first heats taking part yesterday i'm hoping to get down to the beach tonight to enjoy the party and watch the pro surfing into the evening followed by a firework display.

I can't wait for tonight's fireworks as watching fireworks from the beach reflected over the water is always magical. Not to mention the live music and DJ's that will also be down there.

As for photographing the surfers in the dark this really will test my photography skills! It's an event not to be missed lets just hope the dry weather lasts into the evening for all the spectators there.

Friday, 14 June 2013

A Budding Photographer’s Guide to Indian Weddings

A few years ago I went to northern India to trek in the Himalayan mountains and raise much needed cash for The Royal National Institute for the Blind. So when I was asked by fellow photographer to post their blog post about Indian weddings I couldn't resist.
Charity work in India

"Weddings. They are all so different from culture to culture and person to person, but there is one thing they do have very much in common; camera moments. At every wedding there are plenty of them for amateur and professional photographers alike. But there are a few things that all good photographers at Asian weddings should know before taking their shots. 

We have put together a quick wedding guide to help you navigate your way around one of the most colourful of all weddings.

It is Not Black and White
Black and white, although stylish for photos, will not be seen at an Indian Wedding. That is because these colours are mourning colours and weddings as they are supposed to be are happy occasions. So be prepared, as a guest and photographer, to be amazed by the colours paraded around by the guests and the Bride and Groom to be. The bride is traditionally dressed in a gorgeous red wedding dress, so don’t miss her. It will be a shot to remember!

Bare Your Sole
If you have not been inside a religious place for an Asian wedding before, be prepared for people to remove their shoes. For you as a photographer that means two things. One, you will have to make adjustments for your camera. And two, you will have to do the same and remove your shoes too.

Special Rituals Are Not to Be Photographed
There are some occasions during the actual ceremony itself, especially at a Hindu wedding, which you will not be able to capture digitally. Make sure that you understand in advance which wedding rituals are acceptable to photograph and which ones are not. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of other opportunities for you to get snap-happy at.

Food for Thought
The food at an Indian wedding will be every bit as colourful as everybody’s wedding attire. Nothing makes a better photo than plates and plates of delicious looking food and people enjoying it. This is what you will find at an Asian Wedding. If you are attending a Sikh wedding and you are in the gurudwara (which is the Sikh temple) you might be offered blessed food called ‘Karah Prashad.’ But just to warn you, you receive the food with cupped hands, so make sure your camera is in a safe place whilst this part of the wedding ceremony is taking place. Also, remember to wash your hands afterwards, or the photos you will take might have a sticky look and feel to them.

A Gift Of Money
You probably won’t see guests carrying armfuls of gifts to give to Bride and Groom as it is not customary to give gifts from a wedding list. Usually money is given in beautiful envelopes. And if you are lucky enough to be around when they are opened, you will see that monetary values ending with the number 1 will be in plenty of supply as this is a sign of luck. So, a shot or two of 101 rupees or pounds will be a very welcome addition to the photo album.

It Takes Two To Tango
There will probably be lots of opportunities to take fun shots with people of all ages dancing on the dance floor. The Bride at most Asian weddings does not usually dance and if she does it will be once with her new husband.
The opportunity to take photos of guests congratulating the happy couple with a handshake and a peck on the cheek might not present themselves to the budding photographer as male guests do not usually kiss the bride at an Indian wedding.

Bob Emerald got married on a racecourse in India and wished there had been an Asianwedding photographer there to help capture the unforgettable memories he created. 

So there you have it. Your quick guide to photography at an Indian Wedding. 

Happy Snapping!